Public service agreement: which way will it go?
It is hard to call how the voting by trade union members on the Public Service Agreement will go. But if we focus specifically on unions organising in the higher education sector, there is something of a divergence of views. The executive of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has recommended that members (who will be voting on April 24) should reject the agreement, principally because of the provisions (in the appended sectoral agreement) on employment contracts. More than that, the union has declared that if members vote to reject the agreement, but a majority of public service unions vote in favour, IFUT will not see itself bound to follow the majority verdict.
On the other hand the country’s largest trade union SIPTU, which organises in a number of the universities (including DCU), has recommended acceptance of the agreement, arguing that the agreement, while not perfect, is the best that members can expect at this time and that it will protect pay and conditions.
It seems to me that the future of the agreement is on a knife edge. It is also clear that the provisions in the sectoral agreement on higher education have not helped, as they show little understanding of the sector. On the other hand, rejection of the agreement will create an extremely uncertain national climate in which we would have to expect further cuts and, in all probability, unilateral government action regarding higher education funding and governance. None of this is made easier by the fact that the universities are far removed from the negotiations and have had no influence over the terms of the agreement.
There is no easy way forward. One way or another, there are interesting times ahead.Explore posts in the same categories: economy, higher education comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.